Book review: The Woman in Cabin 10


The Woman in Cabin 10

I mentioned recently I was now trying to give myself room for “free range reading”, that is, picking up any book that catches my eye when I visit my public library. I saw The Woman in Cabin 10, a book I didn’t have time to read last year, so I grabbed it, and am very glad I did.

Lo works as a journalist for Velocity, a travel magazine company in London.

Despite her nerves being on edge after her flat is burglarized, she accepts an assignment to cover a cruise to the Northern Lights leaving two days later, as this could be a source of promotion for her.
The Aurora Borealis, with only 10 cabins, is owned by a rich businessman, Richard Bullmer. This will actually be the maiden voyage of the small ship.

The passengers are all rich and famous, or powerful in their respective fields.

On the first night, Lo goes next door, to cabin 10, and borrows mascara from the woman.
Sleeping then fitfully, after heavy drinking, she thinks she hears a big splash in the water. She rushes to her veranda and thinks she sees the body of a woman in the water, as well as blood stains on the partition of cabin 10. Once security arrives however, the blood has disappeared and there’s no trace of anyone having ever occupied cabin 10, because of a last minute cancellation.
Could Lo, a fragile woman on antidepressants, prompt to major anxiety attacks, and a heavy drinker to make things worse, have dreamed it all? Is the woman in cabin a figment of her imagination or for real? But who then could she be, and did she really end up in the water? And how come Lo’s unable to communicate with the outside world through phone and email?

This was a very good mystery. It felt a bit like Murder on the Orient Express by boat, with a neat description of each passenger, and clues and red-herrings about who could have done what. You got it, each and every one could be guilty, even Ben, Lo’s former boyfriend. But guilty of what? That’s what Lo ends up focusing on, instead of actually networking with the passengers for her travel magazine.
And the problem is the reader is constantly questioning Lo’s state of mind. Can we trust her testimony?

Suspense is added by mysterious messages, letters and emails in between each part of the book.
The descriptions of the boat and life during a cruise were excellent, well unless you suffer from claustrophobia.

VERDICT: Many red-herrings and an unreliable narrator make this psychological mystery suspenseful and very enjoyable.

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Author: Ruth Ware
US publication: 7/19/2016
by Simon & Schuster/Gallery/Scout Press
Pages: 340
Mystery / Suspense / Thriller


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